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Liability of a Doctor

Liability of a Doctor

In medical malpractice law, a doctor is liable to be held to a standard of care stipulated by state law. All doctors are required to maintain medical malpractice insurance. Generally, this standard of care is composed of three parts. The first part of standard of care is the principle that a doctor or treating health care professional will always act in the best interest of the patient – that the patient will not be harmed in the process, and that the aims of treatment will be for the patient’s well being. 

The second standard of care refers to the doctor’s responsibility for accuracy in fact-finding and formation of a diagnosis to the best of his or her abilities using up-to-date methodology. The final standard of care refers to a doctors responsibility to form a prompt and appropriate schedule of treatment that will address a patient’s medical issues in time so no further degeneration or damage occurs in the meantime. If a doctor neglects any of these duties, he or she may be an insurance liability. It is thus that all doctors and treating medical professionals must have malpractice insurance to avoid insurance liability cases.

Acting in the patient’s well being may be neglected by the doctor or treating medical professional, resulting in a potential insurance liability. The general rule of thumb for determining the nature of a doctor or treating medical professional’s actions is the harm/benefit ratio.  Certain actions and medical procedures may cause a patient pain or discomfort, but be for the patients overall well being.  For example, a biopsy, incision, or organ removal will leave permanent scarring and often require a painful and extensive recovery period post-operation. 

Although a patient may experience pain and suffering as a result, if the procedure is part of a diagnosis or treatment plan which will improve the patient’s overall quality of life, the doctor’s actions are not generally an insurance liability under malpractice insurance. A patient generally may not sue for medical malpractice if a surgery leaves a scar, unless there is gross error on the post-operative maintenance. 

For example, if non-dissolving stitches are used on the inside of the body, a doctor is liable for medical malpractice. Insurance liability covers a doctors negligence to an extent, though gross negligence or criminal activity may result in further consequences to a doctor, such as loss of license, and not covered under malpractice insurance.